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Side chair

Object number



Maker John Carlile and Sons, active 1789?1803


39 21 1/4 19 3/4 in. (99.06 53.98 50.17 cm)



Current location

Private collection


Made in Providence, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)


Mahogany (primary); birch (seat rails); maple (cross braces); pine (glue blocks)


"Made and Sold, by / JOHN CARLILE & Sons. / All Kinds of Cabinet Work done, in the best Manner, and at the shortest / Notice, at their Shop, just Southward of the / Market, in Providence, State of Rhode- / Island, &c," printed, on paper label glued to interior of rear seat rail


“[Two lines of crossed out text] / PROVIDENCE, R.I.,” stamped in black ink on proper-right rear cross brace


Hepplewhite, Federal


Joseph K. Ott (1929–1994), Providence, Rhode Island, by 1978; by descent to his wife wife Anne Northrup Ott (1929–2015), Providence, Rhode Island; consigned to Christie's, New York, January 20, 2012, lot 157; sold to a private collection

Associated names

Joseph K. Ott
Anne Northrop Ott


The serpentine crest rail is molded on its front face and rounded on its back face. Tenoned and wood-pinned to the ends of the crest rail (the pins are visible on both sides) are the tops of the leg/stiles, whose faces are similarly carved. The leg/stiles consist of the outside portions of the shield-shaped back, a serpentine upright, and square legs, chamfered at their inside corners, which rake rearward and inward below the seat. The incurvate bottom rail of the shield-shaped back is tenoned, without wood pins, to the leg-stiles. A single-piece openwork splat, tenoned into the crest rail and bottom rail, consist of feather carving (continued on the crest rail above), a reeded kylix and leaf-carved swags within an ellipse, and five uprights above a fluted segmented reserve. The back edge of the splat?s carved elements are chamfered. The back face of the leg/stiles between the shield and the seat is rounded at the outside corner and chamfered on the inside corner. The rear seat rail is tenoned and wood-pinned to the leg/stiles. On its upper face is a molded wood cap nailed to it with a variety of brads. The side seat rails are through-tenoned and wedged to the leg/stiles. The front seat rail is serpentine on its outside face; its inside face is straight at the ends (to which glue blocks are attached) and incurvate in the middle. At each corner of the frame is a diagonal brace set into grooves in the top of the inside faces of contiguous seat rails. The rear stretcher is tenoned without wood pins to the rear legs. The side stretchers are flush with the outside faces of the front and rear legs, to which they are offset-tenoned without wood pins. The medial stretcher is tenoned to the side stretchers. The square, tapering front legs are molded on their outside faces, plain on their inside faces, and chamfered on their inside corners. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, August 21, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.


A number of chairs with shield backs and urns with swags survive from Rhode Island and many have been attributed to John Carlile and Sons or John Carlile, Jr., on the basis of five labeled examples by the firm (RIF35, 297, 2554 [pair], 4932). The carving and construction of the chairs varies suggesting that they were made by more than one shop. On the chairs with the label of John Carlile and Sons, the leafage does not overlap the top of the urn and the swag at the top of the urn does not have the illusion of being looped through the ring. A number of unlabelled examples have these distinctive carving details and may have been made by the firm.

See also


Wendy A. Cooper, In Praise of America: American Decorative Arts, 1650–1830, Fifty Years of Discovery since the 1929 Girl Scouts Loan Exhibition (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980), 28–29, fig. 29, 30.
Joseph K. Ott, "Lesser-Known Rhode Island Cabinetmakers: The Carliles, Holmes Weaver, Judson Blake, the Rawsons, and Thomas Davenport," Antiques 121, no. 5 (May 1982): 1156–57, pl. 1, fig. 1.
William C. Ketchum Jr., American Cabinetmakers: Marked American Furniture, 1640-1940 (New York: Crown Publishers, 1995), 60–61.
Christie's, New York, The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph K. Ott, sale cat. (January 20, 2012), 70–71, lot 157, ill.
Patricia E. Kane et al., Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2016), 430–32, no. 102, fig. 1.